top of page

from Extreme Ice Survey, Chasing Ice by James Balog


melting of a glacier because of a deforestation fire

This is more like a story...a surrealist and deformed one. A sequel of Collection 4 where I was telling about the emotional trigger that must exist if we want people to relate to the environment and care for it and nurture it and mostly and foremost THINK about it. Art is generally accepted as appealing to the senses and it must be the way to the heart. Instead of trying to find a way to the brain that often proves to be a tricky organ, able to ignore a lot of scientific data and very well-trained in finding explanations for the human waste and environmental destruction and about the normality of that, we will keep on appealing to the heart. James Balog, National Geographic photographer, makes a point beautifully in one of his Ted Talks:

"Most of the time, art and science stare at each other across a gulf of mutual incomprehension. There is great confusion when the two look at each other. Art, of course, looks at the world through the psyche, the emotions -- the unconscious at times -- and of course the aesthetic. Science tends to look at the world through the rational, the quantitative – things that can be measured and described – but it gives art a terrific context of understanding."

Collection5 is inspired by the documentary film Chasing Ice. Follow National Geographic photographer James Balog across the Arctic in his Extreme Ice Survey as he deploys time-lapse cameras designed for one purpose: to capture a multi-year record of the world's changing glaciers. James Balog at Ted Talks:

“In the Extreme Ice Survey, we're dedicated to bringing those two parts of human understanding together, to merging the art and science to the end of helping us understand nature and humanity's relationship with nature better. Specifically, I as a person who's been a professional nature photographer my whole adult life, am firmly of the belief that photography, video, film have tremendous powers for helping us understand and shape the way we think about nature and about ourselves in relationship to nature.

In this project, we're specifically interested, of course, in ice. I'm fascinated by the beauty of it, the mutability of it, the malleability of it, and the fabulous shapes in which it can carve itself. [...]But ice has another meaning. Ice is the canary in the global coal mine. It's the place where we can see and touch and hear and feel climate change in action.

Climate change is a really abstract thing in most of the world. Whether or not you believe in it is based on your sense of is it raining more or is it raining less? Is it getting hotter or is it getting colder? What do the computer models say about this, that and the other thing? All of that, strip it away. In the world of the arctic and alpine environments, where the ice is, it's real and it's present. The changes are happening. They're very visible. They're photographable. They're measurable.

95 percent of the glaciers in the world are retreating or shrinking. That's outside Antarctica. 95 percent of the glaciers in the world are retreating or shrinking, and that's because the precipitation patterns and the temperature patterns are changing. There is no significant scientific dispute about that. It's been observed, it's measured, it's bomb-proof information. And the great irony and tragedy of our time is that a lot of the general public thinks that science is still arguing about that. Science is not arguing about that. In these images we see ice from enormous glaciers, ice sheets that are hundreds of thousands of years old breaking up into chunks, and chunk by chunk by chunk, iceberg by iceberg, turning into global sea level rise.

Now I've come to the conclusion after spending a lot of time in this climate change world that we don't have a problem of economics, technology and public policy. We have a problem of perception. The policy and the economics and the technology are serious enough issues, but we actually can deal with them. I'm certain that we can. But what we have is a perception problem because not enough people really get it yet. You're an elite audience. You get it. Fortunately, a lot of the political leaders in the major countries of the world are an elite audience that for the most part gets it now. But we still need to bring a lot of people along with us."

Common Parts is a sustainable fashion brand working with waste or discarded fabrics

bottom of page